Terrence Clark, SVP & GM of CA ecoSoftware at CA Technologies, writes about the importance of stakeholder communication in his latest blog post on the Energy & Sustainability Perspectives blog. Pulling from recent headlines in The Wall Street Journal – one about BP and its efforts in the gulf and the other on Nestle and its bottled water business - Terrence notes that stakeholder engagement is a critical element in corporate sustainability programs, calling out that “many companies talk about it, some companies pay lip service to it, and others actually use it to help guide their business strategy.”
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I like poker. It provides a fascinating insight into the human psyche. It mirrors life with a heavy dose of luck (of the draw), the application of types of IQ (emotional, intellectual, and relational), and nerve. I’m okay at poker and enjoy playing with friends. As a game it’s fun, but as a business methodology, it’s immoral. Poker is a zero-sum game. Someone wins only when someone else loses.
We recently returned from a fantastic conference in Boston held by the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship. People from all walks of life gathered together to share best practices and learn how to leverage resources, knowledge, and skills to address some of the most complex and prevalent issues facing our world. The speakers were insightful, the sessions were salient, and the food was ridiculous (I mean in a ridiculously good way).
This has to be one of the aspects of our work in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that we enjoy the most: collaboration. Competitors often come together to share information and build something greater together, but the businesses represented at the conference were not your typical altruistic tree huggers. They’ve just figured out the business advantage of sustainability: ever increasing markets.
Corporate Social Responsibility offers companies (those enlightened enough to see and act on it) the ability to increase marketshare by competing on growing mutual benefit. It is the antithesis of the zero-sum philosophy of competition.
By continuing to increase the health, education, and opportunities to contribute for people around the world, markets actually rise. When resources are replenished and managed properly, companies continue to have materials and resources to utilize. Every step that’s taken to contribute to the mutual benefit of all, via collaboration, increases the “pot of money” that’s on the table.
So how is this competitive? Simple. Companies that act as takers rather than contributors are increasingly reviled by consumers and stakeholders alike. The toleration for “business as usual” is waning. Even companies that held themselves up as standard-bearers for good CSR, but failed the test of ethics and transparency, are currently paying an unforgiving price. This message is reaching a crescendo all around us, from entertainment to the products we are using.
We’ve all heard about “going green” and the corporate sustainability plans that many larger organizations are undertaking. However, one of the biggest misconceptions around this topic is that sustainable business strategies are exclusive to larger organizations. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
In fact, within our professional consulting with smaller businesses, we guide clients to use the best practices of larger organizations to sustainable business strategies they can use in their business that deliver bottom line and environmental results.
As an example, HP is known as a consumer and vendor of paper. Internally, HP executed six guiding principles including efficient use of raw materials, sustainable forestry practices, responsible and low-carbon production, and waste minimization. The results? HP diverted 91.3 percent of its waste in 2008 and the company’s non-hazardous waste reduction program helped the company avoid sending 83,866 tons of waste to landfill, which was primarily paper waste. Technology Business Research says this strategy saved the company nearly $7.7 million from reusing items and avoiding landfill costs, and generated $2 million in revenue by selling material to recyclers.
How can a small business implement similar sustainability concepts in the business and generate similar results of cost savings, environmental impact reduction, and increased efficiency?
One approach taken in our business sustainability programs is to identify all the activities in a business that utilizes paper. The obvious comes to mind like printers, copiers, mail, and collateral. Areas to explore include:
• How much paper do you use for events, trade shows, invoicing, literature, packaging, shipping materials?
• What about the kitchen areas and bathrooms? Remember, it’s not just paper but paper products.
• Consult with people in other departments and get a clear picture of the paper they are using, where it is coming from, when they are using it, and how they are using it.
• You might want to talk to your purchasing department and learn more about how much you are spending on your paper products.
As a next step, take eco action and employ the sustainability concept of the 3 R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle.
• Reduce your paper consumption by working with your purchasing department to reduce the amount of paper purchased and switch to buying recycled paper (100% post consumable is best).
• Reuse paper by placing bins next to the copiers and printers for easy reuse of single sided scraped paper.
• Recycle paper that has been used.
Simultaneous with these efforts, we suggest the use of online document management systems for your documents. Content management systems give you more than the environmental benefits of going paperless. They offer the ability to manage different types of data: emails, contracts, logos, reports, forms, drawings, web pages, and blogs which contributes to improved efficiency, further cost reductions, and environmental gains.
Sustainable business strategies used by larger organizations are examples of best practices that can be utilized in small business to generate cost savings, reduced environmental impacts, and brand differentiation by going green.
(3BLMedia/theCSRfeed) December 9, 2009 – The Green Business League is now unveiling their new Green Business Directory. This directory will have your companies information listed on the Green Business League website with a link back to your home page. This is not only a great way to get online advertisement for your company but it is also free. Thousands of people visit the Green Business Directory website every day and now the Green Business League is offering to put your website on their directory for free.
The Green Business Directory will give your company excellent online exposure to individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations, eco-friendly organizations, government affiliated programs, other green companies, and much more. If you have a Green Company that wants to be promoted online, then be associated with the Green Business League which is a nationally recognized authority. Having your companies name on this directory will give your company more clients because businesses looking for green products and services visit our website first for the most recent and trustworthy information.
The Green Business Directory is unlike other online directory because our website gets viewed by business professionals every day looking for Green companies products and services near them. Other directories are not as popular or have a well known name associated to them. If you are tired of not getting noticed online for being a quality Green Company the let the Green Business Directory give your business some credibility and brand recognition.
The TERMS and CONDITIONS are very simple. You need only CONNECT to the Green Business League networking program and commit to a program that will introduce Green and Sustainable Practices to your daily operation. Your involvement in a genuine program of Green compliance is very important as the business world becomes more concerned about Green certification.
There are more than 300 Certified Green Consultants nationwide. As we form a national Green Business Directory, our consultants are networking Green businesses locally. You will be invited to attend the local Green Business Networking events that are planning semi-annually or locally in your area. As a CONNECTED Green Business, you will be on the preferred invited list. During these events, you will be able to make very important business connections to other Green businesses in your community.
We reserve the right to remove any listing that is contrary what we consider to be Green Practices and Ethics, and your listing will continue for one year without charge. To insure the existence of a business and that there is at least a basic commitment to a Green program, one of our Certified Green Consultants will contact you in the next 30-60 days. There is no obligation, and you should get to know this person since they are capable of helping your business grow through their business connections.
To get your free listing on the Green Business Directory visit the Green Business League website. You will be taken to a page that explains the Free Connection program of the Green Business League. Obviously, it is our hope that your business will move from Connection to Compliance and Certification as a Green business. This offer has no hidden charges nor does our program have any products to sell. Green Business League is a nationally-recognized Green business program of education, guidance, and certification. We feel that the days of greenwashing will soon fall under public criticism and only an authentic Green Business Certification, such as offered by the Green Business League, will be the accepted standard.
It’s official. Japan’s long recession has finally ended. The small but highly productive nation has suffered enormous economic set-backs over the past two decades. To pull themselves out of the downturn, the Japanese business community and its government have followed a consistent and socially responsible course to economic recovery. The Japanese business model has emerged as an important example for how to create long-term profits while maintaining a clear code of ethics and honor.
No Apeing of America
Japan’s new Financial Services Minister, Shizuka Kamei took office this past month and vowed that, “There would be no apeing of America.” Kamei declared the official Japanese business model would embrace “social meaning.” Mr. Kamei called for Japanese corporations to turn away from the American model of “self-interest” and return to the old spirit of “unity and cooperation” that once made Japan’s economy great. ”Japan became No 1 in the world and it is an objective and historical fact that Japan achieved that because of a typically Japanese style of corporate management…I insist that we should return to the traditional Japanese style of management.”
Sampoh-Yoshi: Happiness Times Three
Sampoh-Yoshi, loosely translated as the “Trinity of Bliss…of buyers, sellers, and the general public” is a business code for Japanese merchants dating back to the 12th century. In the medieval district of Ohmi, an area near Kyoto, the ancient business model of “Sampoh-Yoshi” lasted over eight hundred years.” The code declared that Ohmi merchants were honor bound to customers and society alike to sell items of quality at a fair price. If customers were not happy, then merchants had failed in their basic responsibility. Equally important was the seller’s obligation to the community it served. A product or business service must serve the greater society or the promise of “Sampoh-Yoshi” was unfulfilled.
Jobs for Life
Jobs for life are becoming as quaint and old-fashioned an idea in modern Japan as they are in the United States. For three decades, the old concept of “Jobs for Life” has eroded in the U.S. only to be replaced with a brutally harsh job-cutting culture that is corporate America. In the US, companies increase earnings by slicing staff with abandon. Long term employees are famously given 10-20 minutes to pack up years of belongings and “exit the premises.” To ensure compliance, uniformed security guards escort them to the door. Not so in socially conscientious Japanese corporate culture where dignity remains the word of the day.
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Despite a sustained economic downturn, leading corporations appear to be strengthening their voluntary response to climate change. With the release of its third annual corporate climate scores for 90 well-known consumer companies, the non-profit organization Climate Counts pointed to a 22% increase in scores by 81 of the companies, as well as significant gains among those previously in the index’s lowest tier.For the second straight year, Nike’s score of 83 points (out of a possible 100) topped the list. For the first time all of the 12 companies scored in the electronics sector and the four companies evaluated in the consumer shipping sector have now earned a score above 50 points, or what Climate Counts considers “striding” companies (in contrast with those “starting” companies earning 13-49 points and those “stuck” companies with 12 points or less). In recent years, these two sectors each have seen significant competitive energy around corporate sustainability, which appears to have had the effect of elevating scores – and substantive innovation efforts. “Competition – the most fundamental tenet of a thriving global marketplace – will define the future of corporate climate action and sustainability,” said Climate Counts Executive Director Wood Turner. “Our scores show that companies are motivated to act when they may not measure up to other companies on their response to issues that matter to people. Climate change is certainly one of those issues, and companies in every major consumer sector have dialed up their efforts in an evolving economy to make the reduction of global warming pollution a competitive advantage.” Climate Counts also found that the improved scores of a number of the companies it evaluates were more than just incremental. Scores surged for previously low-scoring companies like eBay (a jump of 48 points), US Airways (up 43 points to match most of the top scorers in a relatively low-scoring sector), Apple (up 41 points), and Levi Strauss (up 36 points) when many such companies became much more engaged in quantifying and reducing their impact on climate change and in supporting public policy on climate (or opposing the climate positions of groups like the US Chamber of Commerce). Climate Counts uses a 22-criteria scorecard to track corporate climate action in four key areas: measurement of impact; reduction of impact; engagement on public policy related to climate change; and openness and transparency with consumers on corporate climate activities. “Climate Counts is one the key external benchmarks we consider in evaluating our progress to address climate change,” said Rob Bernard, Chief Environmental Strategist from Microsoft, up 23 points in the latest round of scores. “We appreciate the work they do to provide the marketplace with a framework for assessing companies’ actions to address the pressing issue of climate change.” “Our new scores show that many, many companies have begun to take their responsibility for climate action seriously,” said Turner. “But the onus is also on consumers. It’s time now for them to show business that corporate climate action does not go unnoticed. Companies will continue to see climate protection as an opportunity when consumers tell them in no uncertain terms that inaction is simply not an option.” To augment consumer action tools on its website, Climate Counts will release an iPhone application later this year to help consumers not only access company climate scores while shopping but also send messages to those companies about their scores.
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